The following is an excerpt of a must-read piece I had the privilege of translating with my colleague Allison McManus. It delves into the history behind “Throne Day” in Morocco, how its purpose has evolved to serve those in power, and how it culminated to serve a type of nationalism that builds itself upon centralized authoritarianism in Morocco. It sparked my interest in examining how nationalism in Morocco fed off the monarchy as a component inherent to the “Moroccan nation.” More on that soon…
From its recent creation in 1933, Coronation Day registered as what historians call the “invention of tradition.” That is to say, it was created to establish a set of rituals in order to create a fictitious continuity with the past and instill standards of behavior upon the population in the name of tradition. The promoters of invented traditions choose references and old symbols to respond to the constraints of their times. Under its current form, Hassan II (1961-1999) created this ritual to affirm the monarchy’s centrality and supremacy. It was thus diverted from its original purpose which the nationalists initially intended it to serve: to symbolize and celebrate the Moroccan nation.
Read more here.
With scattered thoughts and lack of clarity, sometimes analysis is not really the appropriate way to approach certain moments. As things in Morocco continue to unfold, instead of offering the usual formula, might serve well to just revisit recent headlines for a better picture:
- Mohammed VI pardons a pedophile then claims he didn’t know only after protests were held.
- 16 members of the royal guard died in a truck accident, 42 injured.
- 23-year old street vendor in El Jadida beaten by police after he refused to pay them a bribe.
- Moroccan bakers are threatening to cease bread production in protest over rising costs.
- Police in Tangier raped an underage girl from Cote d’Ivoire. There was also a separate incident where police in Tangier threw a Congolese woman from a bus, resulting in her death.
- Senegalese expat murdered over a dispute on a bus–he was subject to racial slurs prior to his murder.
- Coalition government is in shambles. Istiqlal out, PPS falling apart, RNI is hot and cold…
- Food subsidy cuts are on the agenda.
Le plus beau pays du monde et toussa.
The always indispensable Lakome has reported that an underage girl from Cote d’Ivoire was raped by police in Tangiers. It was also reported that a 40-year old woman from Congo died after she was thrown from a police bus.
Sadly, the piece I wrote last week on the pandemic state-sanctioned racism in Morocco couldn’t be more relevant:
The history of racism and treatment towards black Africans stems back centuries ago to the slave trade, which Morocco was heavily involved in. Chouki El Hamel raises points about the history of what he describes as “Black Morocco.” While there are nuances with regard to the treatment black Moroccans versus black non-Moroccan Africans must face, the state’s complicity in perpetuating such deep-seeded racism is important to note. The state’s complicity spans from carrying out racist policies, such as the police forcibly evicting the tenants of an apartment, to racist depictions of black Moroccans and non-Moroccan Africans on state media. There is a perverse logic in the sign mentioned above simply using the term “African” to refer to black non-Moroccan Africans, despite the obvious fact that Moroccans are Africans by virtue of the country’s geographical location. In conversation, many Moroccans refer to Africa and Africans as if they themselves were removed from it, often using Africa and Africans to refer to sub-Saharan Africa and sub-Saharan Africans. Yet, when the prevalence of racism in Morocco is brought up as a point, the dominant narrative argues that it is not “widespread,” suggesting, for example, that because segregation is not institutionalized in public spaces, then racism does not exist. This liberal view of racial politics dismisses the placement of privilege and the pervasiveness of embedded misperceptions towards both black Moroccans and black non-Moroccan Africans. Such a view carries dangerous consequences for those who are on the receiving end of this treatment that has gone virtually unaddressed up until recently.
Continue reading here.